StreetSafe workers get library access

The library in Sea Point runs a digital literacy course for street-based people.

The Green Point Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association is helping homeless people by offering basic jobs in the Green Point area and online teaching at the Colin Eglin library.

The GPRRA started the StreetSafe Collective in January and roped in 16 homeless people who are working as car-guards in Green Point parking spaces.

The manager of StreetSafe Collective, Riedoewaan Galant, says they insist that their employees live at a shelter or at the Safe Space.

“We have connected five guys with their families. That is one of our aims, to reunite them with their families. We have 13 workers now and one supervisor as there is not enough funds,” said Mr Galant.

The StreetSafe Collective car-guards operate on Main Road between Upper Portswood and Varneys roads from 8am until 4pm.

“These guys look out for the safety of the people that park here and they are not allowed to ask or beg for money as they are getting paid. Besides this we have to empower them with skills and two of them have been sent for security grading and they have been introduced to computer courses at the Sea Point library,” he said.

From left to right: Maixent Bitsoundo-Mpoumou, Nozuko Zenzwa (social auxillary worker), Riedoewaan Galant (StreetSafe Collective manager) and William Dassie.

Maixent Bitsoundo-Mpoumou, 46, and Stefanus Damons, 55, have made use of the computer access at the library. Both have been with the project since January.

“I enjoy having to work with the people here at StreetSafe. It was my first time working on the computers and I’m enjoying it. They showing us how to type and how to access the internet to read news,” said Mr Damons.

“I’ve been able to reach out to my family in Congo, Brazzaville, through the access we get at the library. I’m able to email and to go on Facebook and search for jobs,” said Mr Bitsoundo-Mpoumou.

The senior librarian at Colin Eglin library, Katherine Moon, says the digital literacy programme is an ongoing programme for the StreetSafe employees and homeless people.

“We cover a mixture of job ready skills, how to create CVs, how to search for jobs, how to access our press reader and how to access Youtube and Facebook. We mostly focus on the focus on the job-ready aspects but people do use computers for entertainment, so that’s important as well,” said Ms Moon.

She adds that they can use libraries across the City and that she has seen homeless persons, who live at shelters or safe spaces, return to the library to access their emails.

“Stefanus was quite excited to learn how to use a PC and he is improving his typing skills every time he comes in, he is always eager to show his improvement so he is definitely enjoying this course,” she said.

Liz Knight, the co-chair of the GPRRA, says the funds come from the PEP and they are eagerly awaiting feedback from the City regarding the continuation of these funds (“NGOs eagerly await PEP approval, Atlantic Sun, July 14).

“The GPRRA works with Khulisa to secure funds for this project. They (Khulisa) are the link between the City of Cape Town and NGO’s. It is an arduous task but we have to be compliant and the project is working wonderfully. The manager, Riedoewaan, is doing a fabulous job with the people that he works with,” said Ms Knight.

“We wait to hear about next stage. Khulisa is supporting us with some management aspects based on the success of our programme,” she said.

Stefanus Damons, 55, says it’s his first time using a computer and accessing the internet at the library.